of the Lost Ark hit theaters in July 1981,
the young fans had to wait till late 1982 to find
the first Indiana Jones toys on store shelves.
The simple reason for this long delay was that
no licensee had been signed on to Raiders
before the film was released. Totally not like
today as we can now buy toys even before the film
they are based on has hit the theatres!
The company who got the licence
to produced the Raiders
of the Lost Ark toys is Kenner.
The same company responsible for the super successful
Star Wars action
The packaging of Kenner's
Indy figures gives this away as their cards show
much of the style of their Star
Wars action figure line with the figure
offset to the side on a color background and a
large picture directly from the movie to catch
the consumer's eye.
Kenner initially released only four
3.75" carded figures in 1982: Indiana Jones,
Marion Ravenwood, Toht, and the Cairo Swordsman.
An even choice as the kids had 2 heroes and 2
villains to play against each other while reenacting
Raiders of the Lost Ark.
These first four figures appeared with a send-away
offer for another action figure -- Belloq in Ceremonial
Robe -- printed as a blurb on the front and also
in more detail on the back of the cards.
With this first release also came 2 playsets:
the Well of Souls Action Playset and the Map Room
An improvement to Kenner's
previous Star Wars
figures is that Indiana Jones and the other characters
-- except Marion who received a fabric dress instead
-- all got knee joints! But Raiders
was not Kenner's
first series of figures with knee joints. That
honor goes to the toys of the film Butch
and Sundance: The Early Years, from 1979.
The cowboys in the Butch
and Sundance series were also the first
to get a "quick-draw" feature, an innovation
given to the Indiana Jones figure. Indy could
now swing his whip, draw his pistol or deliver
his opponent a nasty upper-cut!
Later in 1983, Kenner expanded their
Raiders of the Lost Ark
toy line with four more 3.75" carded figures:
Belloq, Sallah, Indiana Jones in German Uniform,
and the German Mechanic. A third action playset
-- Streets of Cairo Action Playset -- the Arabian
Horse, and the Desert Convoy Truck were also release.
Belloq in Ceremonial Robe was depicted
in line with all other figures shown on the second
series card backs but was still offered exclusively
as a mail-in premium.
A few examples of a carded Belloq in Ceremonial
Robe do exist but have never been released for
wide distribution. The very few that are
available are thought to be salesman samples.
Indy fans and collectors often compare this figure
on card with the "Holy Grail". It is
very hard to find and incredible expensive!
Next to the Raiders
of the Lost Ark action figures line, Kenner
also released one single 12" Indiana Jones
figure, based on the same scale as their Star
Wars 12" line of figures.
And because Indiana Jones was played by the same
actor as Han Solo -- thus showing a striking resemblance
all clothes from the Han Solo figure and replaced
them with the iconic Indiana Jones gear. They
also exchanged Han Solo's brown eyes to blue for
Indy but they apparently didn't bother re-sculpting
his hair, resulting that the 12" Indy figure
has an obvious 1970s hairdo with cool sideburns.
But that can be camouflaged by placing the fedora
on the Indy figure its head.